A major new study reveals that people with the skin condition psoriasis are more likely to develop other diseases, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
The study, conducted by dermatologists at the University of Pennsylvania and published in JAMA Dermatology, examined medical records from more than 100,000 people and found that psoriasis was linked to an increased risk of other diseases affecting the lungs, heart, kidneys, liver and pancreas. Researchers also found that the risk of developing these diseases increased with the severity of the psoriasis.
Psoriasis is a common skin disorder that affects the life cycle of skin cells, causing cells to build up rapidly and form thick scales and itchy, dry, red patches. Psoriasis is a persistent, long-lasting disease that ranges from mild to severe.
People with psoriasis were more likely to develop the following conditions (listed in order of increasing likelihood and expressed as an odds ratio):
- COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), 1.08
- Diabetes, 1.22
- Peptic ulcer, 1.27
- Kidney disease, 1.28
- Diabetes with complications, 1.34
- Heart attack, 1.34
- Mild liver disease, 1.41
- PVD (peripheral vascular disease), 1.38
- Rheumatologic disease, 2.04
This study is particularly noteworthy because of its magnitude. The researchers analyzed 99,385 records and found 9,035 patients with psoriasis, ages 25 to 64.
“As we identify additional diseases linked to psoriasis, patients and physicians need to be aware of the increased odds of [other] serious illnesses, which are especially important in severe cases,” said Joel M. Gelfand, M.D., lead researcher and associate professor of dermatology and epidemiology at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine. “The complications from diabetes and links to COPD, kidney disease and peptic ulcers we identified suggest new areas for research, while for the first time, demonstrating how increasing body surface area affected by psoriasis is directly associated with increasing risk of atherosclerotic disease.”
Since the chance of developing these conditions increased with the severity of the psoriasis, this correlation could give researchers clues to how the diseases are connected.
“The link to severity is important for several reasons,” said Gelfand. “First, it establishes a ‘dose-response,’ which suggests, but doesn’t prove, a causal relationship. Second, the findings are clinically important as psoriasis is such a variable disease. By understanding how the degree of skin affected is associated with various health risks, patients and their caregivers can better understand how these study results may apply to them on an individual basis.”
Researchers noted that psoriasis, atherosclerosis and diabetes are all diseases that share chronic inflammation as the underlying cause. This connection could give some insight into the relationship between these diseases.
The takeaway point is that increasing severity of skin psoriasis is an indicator of risk for other serious medical conditions. As a result, comprehensive medical care is important for patients with psoriasis, especially those who suffer from a more extensive degree of the skin disease.
Although there is no cure for psoriasis, treatments may offer significant relief. If you think you may be suffering from this skin disorder, call to make an appointment with Greenville Dermatology today at (864) 242-5872.